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Review by Markus Prieur
Sitting in Dublin Zoo between two Dublin shows I must say last night's
show was something special. As it was a warm up show, Bob resorted mainly
to Greatest Hits and did not pull out many nuggets. Most songs had been
performed on all of the four 2000 tours.
One of the main traps when going to see Bob is an expectation of certain
or rare songs (especially at a club show). I don't want to fall into it,
but I always do. Last night I did it all the more, as I put together a
website (Not Dark Yet) about a dozen of songs he performed both this and
last year, none of which he played last night. It also had been 500 days
since Munich, where my wife and I had last seen him perform.
Anyway, he did play five songs I had never seen before in 21 concerts
since 1981, plus a few new arrangements of songs I had seen already. I
never had seen the only cover song of the night "Duncan and Brady", which
opened the show in this intimate venue. We were standing in the very
center, two yards away from the small stage, where the band stood closer
together and closer to the audience as usual. The venue is wider than
deep, and it truly was a "living room atmosphere". Looking back to the
mostly V.I.P balcony I noticed that every face in the audience was clearly
visible from the stage. Sitting there were famous dudes like The Edge,
Bono, Christy Moore, Paul Brady and Elvis Costello, all enjoying the
finest concert (to date) on Irish soil.
I got to hear my first (and long awaited) "Desolation Row" (six verses),
and my first "Ring Them Bells", with Bob singing the "chosen few, who will
judge the many, when the game is through"-verse twice. "Country Pie" and
"Things Have Changed" were also added to my list. "Tomorrow Is A Long
Time", one of my favourite "old songs", I had not seen since 1987. The new
arrangement of "Drifter's Escape" was as hot as can be, taking no
prisoners and featuring the only harmonica solo of the night. The "new"
"Can't Wait" and a "new" "Just Like A Woman" (with Bob playing the most
interesting guitar licks halfway through the lines) were not among the 83
songs performed in June/July. The last song on Tony's cue sheet (yes I was
that close), "'Til I Fell In Love With You", Bob had not yet performed at
all this year. I wonder, how many different songs we are going to see in
the six or seven shows we are heading to next.
But first we gotta get out of this Zoo, find an Internet Cafe, and then
get to "The Point".
Review by Mad Max and JT
The concert had been advertised on the internet on the 30th August; with
tickets on sale at 10am on Monday 4th September. Press reports
indicated that they had sold out in 55 seconds; which was hardly
surprising since the venue. a night club, held only 1,000 - Dylan’s
smallest venue since the “Unplugged” concerts the Supper Club in New
When we arrived at Vicar Street, three hours before the doors opened,
there was a forlorn queue of people with signs such as “I need a ticket”
and “I need a miracle.” On the opposite side of the street, a lone girl
sat with her backpack, and a simple sign reading “free ticket for Bob
Dylan”, clearly a need rather than an offer.
Later as we, the ones with tickets, queued, one desperate punter offered
a free holiday in the sun to a destination of our choice. He got no
Eventually we were let in to the night club, in groups of ten.
Overwhelmed by the size or rather lack of it - the stage was so small
that it made sense of the rumours that Dylan would be appearing solo - (
if it were the Stones, Mick Jagger would haven’t had space to swing a
mike let alone strut his stuff). But from the outset it was clear the
whole band would be there, the equipment was set up.
There was balcony running round the sides; and as the start time
approached its front row filled with the great and the good of Irish
rock and folk; Liam Clancy, Christie Moore, members of U2, Paul Brady
and Elvis Costello to name but a few.
A few minutes after the appointed time the lights dimmed and a roar
broke out as the band took to the stage; strobe lights flickered as
Dylan strapped on his guitar, and the band launched into the opening
number. He was playing acoustic, the sound was loud and clear, and the
band got into a rhythm that was tight and energetic, and which they
maintained with one or two exceptions throughout the gig.
Dylan appeared somewhat dazed, was typically noncommunicative, with juts
a couple of “thank you’s” and the introduction to the band his only
spoken comments. Despite a loud request from the audience, he never
He sang and played with feeling, by no means just going through the
motions - the rest of the band were particularly appreciative of the
strength of welcome and enjoyment by the audience. The lead guitarist
and bass were particularly good at following Dylan. Dylan himself
brought each number to a concise end by indicating it with a measured
glance at the drummer.
Our verdict. Mad Max ; a recent convert (Botanic Gardens, Belfast 98)
and jt - a veteran, (Albert Hall 1966, Isle of Wight 1969, etc, etc). -
Best ever concert.
Why- because of the intimacy of the small venue, the tightness of the
band, the exquisite performance of a number of songs - Desolation Row,
Girl from the North Country, Tangled up in Blue in particular and
Dylan’s energy, commitment and charisma. The moments when the four
guitars were singing together. It was a magical evening.
Review by Tiernan Henry
Outside The Point are two huge billboards, and for the past couple of weeks
drivers crossing the toll bridge, or heading for the docks (the waterfront
docks, I suppose) have been treated to the sight of a billboard-filling Bob
Dylan, in best guitar hero mode.
In all the years I’ve been a Bob fan these are the first Bob billboards I’ve
seen. Saw lots of posters in London in 1981, and lots of posters for Slane;
even had the full-page ad in the Minneapolis Star Tribune advertising the
Orpheum shows back in 1992.
But never a billboard.
It’s a hell of a photo too. For once it’s a recent shot, not one of the
recycled ones that Sony fall back on (usually from the Street Legal era)
when doing posters and press ads.
A hell of a photo, and, on Wednesday and Thursday night, a hell of a show.
Sure, the set lists are nothing extraordinary, and sure, he didn’t have any
guests, or do any of the songs I’d love him to cover when in Ireland (Lizzy’
s “Dancing in the Moonlight”, the Stars of Heaven’s “Sacred Heart Hotel”,
Microdisney’s “Town to Town”, or The Undertones’ “Teenage Kicks”, though to
be honest he delivered two hopped-up numbers from John Wesley Harding that
would have pleased any Undertone fan). But the shows, the shows were
If you’ve ever seen him live, you know that irrespective of the overall
quality of the show, you were guaranteed that there would always be a Bob
moment: when, in a phrase, or a gesture, or a look, it would all fall into
place. Angel wing time. Heart flutters, goose bumps.
I can remember most of those Bob moments stretching back over the past
20-plus years. Sure, I’ve lots and lots of shows on tape and cd, and while
that is great, it still pales compared to seeing him live, even if
expectations may not be (and probably can’t be) met.
Belfast a couple of years ago was really no more than an okay show,
brightened by a couple of gem-like moments. Liverpool in 96 was satisfying,
but not an awful lot more than that. The Point in 1995 was a joy.
But nothing, nothing could have prepared me for the two shows last week.
Start to finish they were everything you could have wished and hoped for.
In the zone, on target, top of his game, pick your sports cliché. He was
outrageously good both nights.
And here’s what I thought:
Pouring rain, though not a sound of skeleton keys to be heard. In the bar
milled about Dublin’s rockerati: the Irish Times’ Tony Clayton-Lea, Brian
Boyd and Joe Jackson; The Herald’s Eamonn Carr, himself something of an
Irish musical maven having played with Horslips; Hot Press’s Liam Mackey.
BP Fallon – self-proclaimed Bob expert - was bopping in and out, as were the
Eamonns – Dunphy and McCann. Roddy Doyle drifted in. Donal Lunny and Philip
King. Marianne Faithfull, in from Wicklow, breezed by.
A tough crowd to please, and yet there was an unmistakably giddy mood in the
bar. This was something special, and journalistic objectivity be damned:
Bob Dylan was in Vicar Street.
We supped our pints and went into the venue just before showtime. As has
been mentioned before, Vicar Street is very very small. Everywhere is close
to the stage.
The balcony was packed with celebs: U2, REM, Elvis Costello, Paul Brady,
Christy Moore, hell, even Louis Walsh (manager of Boyzone) was there.
And just about 8:40 the house lights dimmed, the band shuffled onstage, and
there he was in the middle, pulling on his suit coat. “Ladies and gentlemen…
“ and we were off.
Straight into a lean, tight and mean “Duncan & Brady”. Right from the get go
we were on a magical ride. Bob, up close, looked all his 59 years, looked
twice that age, looked half that age. We saw all the Dylans tonight: spunky
kid, punk rocker, country crooner, gypsy busker, band leader, band member,
age old, ageless.
Taken at a clip the song was a perfect opener: let the boys stretch into the
show, let Bob test the tonsils, and let the audience, and those in the
balcony, know just who was calling the shots. “Been on the job too long?”
I don’t think so.
A delicate “To Ramona” followed, still as fragile a lyric and melody as all
those years ago. Experience and age hasn’t mellowed its youthful charm.
“Desolation Row” brought gasps and sighs. Sure, he’s played it to death many
a night, but tonight it sounded like a breaking news bulletin. And just as
he’d gotten us stirring he switched back a gear, setting hearts racing with
a beautiful “Tomorrow Is A Long Time”. I’ve yet to tire of this song. While
others come and go this remains one of my favourites of his, and the version
we got tonight was worth the price of admission alone.
Looking around us faces were lit up with grins. Four songs in and already we
knew we were in for a treat. “Tangled” with Bob leading the way on the
guitar set the place alight. It’s changed little in the past few years, but
the power of the song to rouse a crowd hasn’t diminished in the slightest.
By now Bob was in full on tic, grimace, knee-bend and shoulder shrug mode.
He was most definitely leading the band (and us) a merry dance.
The applause died down and Bob pulled the rug from under us again. “Ring
Them Bells”: sung straight and true. The calm at the centre of the storm.
And then it was time to party again. “Country Pie” allowed Charlie his first
outing up the fret board of the night, and Bob, mugging like a sideshow
barker, told us the harrowing tale of “raspberry, strawberry, lemon and
lime”. Short sharp shock. Try shouting “Judas” at that. A complete
throwaway song has become a yelp of glee, a chance to kick out the jams, and
a complete twister of expectation.
“Can’t Wait”, a broody slow blues, built in tension and drama. Bob leaning
in an out of the microphone, hissing the words. Then it was let it rip time
again, with a rollicking “Maggie’s Farm”. “Just Like A Woman” followed, Bob
reminding everyone present just what a melodically idiosyncratic player he
Over and over again over the course of the two shows Bob amazed me with his
timing, his delivery and his understanding of time and space. Here was Bob,
the enigma, the silent, standing in plain sight, and yet invisible to us.
“Invisibility”, wrote Ralph Ellison, “gives on a slightly different sense of
time; you’re never quite on the beat… you are aware of (time’s) nodes, those
points whose time stands still or from which it leaps ahead. And you slip
into the breaks and look around.”
Ciaran Carson, the Ulster writer, described working with a traditional Irish
musician, Cathal McConnell, thus: “I have often been amazed by his
propensity for tunes, his memory for the words of songs, and his ability to
link them in a vast cartography of time and place, a map of may layers
through which Cathal slips and visits, time and time again, and brings back
strange new tunes and news, as if he were invisible.”
And Bob does this. He renegotiates lost time. “Just Like A Woman”:
played-out, hackneyed, jingoistic? On tonight’s reading, no. Far far from
it. This was new; there in his knee bends, his Strat strapped high on his
chest, Bob was ghosting his own past. Our knowledge of the past was changed,
as Carson puts it, on rehearing the song.
And while he was busily fucking with my head, Bob uncorked a grizzly, manic
and sizzling guitar solo. Just a song & dance man after all, it seems.
Then it was his nod, I reckon, to the Undertones. The next 60 seconds can
feel like eternity, someone once remarked. The next three minutes was time
compressed, condensed and exploding. “Drifter’s Escape”, all stops and
starts, “boo-I-scared-you” guitars, and the best harp playing I’ve heard
in an age.
The first set ended with a squally, swirling deep blues “Leopard Skin Pill
Box Hat”, Bob wielding the guitar like a club, twirling it like a baton and
pulling a gnarly gutbucket solo from it.
Off they went leaving us in a tizzy. The place was in uproar. Costello,
Christy, REM and U2 all on their feet. Poor Edge, his head must have been
boiled under the Ali G hat. Still, his brains were not addled enough to keep
He’d barely spoken to us, barely made eye contact with anything other than
his pointy-toed boots, and yet he’d told us a magnificent tale of love,
loss, daring, adventure. You want the great American novel: go see it on
stage at a town near you soon.
“Things Have Changed” was more guitar than drum oriented, but Bob’s delivery
was instinctive and perfect. A reminder, if any were needed, that his is
still a voice that needs to be heard. Neil Young’s oft misused dictum “it’s
better to burn out than to fade away” doesn’t apply here: Bob is kinfolk of
those blues men of old, singing of their age from their age.
What came next just plain near melted Vicar Street. In his Guardian review,
Sean O’Hagan nailed this: “Rolling Stone” took flight on the energy of the
band, Bob and the audience. People were howling the chorus at each other, at
the sky, at Bob, and Bob, taking it all in, led the song to a magnificent,
riotous conclusion. And then a shimmer, a moment of daring. He gently led us
through “Girl from the North Country”, wistful and regretful, the song is
now that of a 59-year old man not seeking to rekindle anything other than a
flame is his own heart, and a benediction offered to a never-forgotten love.
A souped-up, raring, foot on the floor “Highway 61” followed, Bob coasting
now. Not complacent though, just coasting, like you do when you’re on an
Autobahn, humming along at 100mph.
“Blowin’ In The Wind”, renewed, and shed of all its youthful innocence,
followed. This, of all the songs tonight, came across most as something Bob
had found deep in an Appalachian valley. It wasn’t hopeful (or hope-less),
but his delivery imbued it with a flavour of the deep time of the folk
tradition. You could write anything you wanted into the verses – they belong
to everyone – but the chorus was straight from the Famine, from the slavery
ships, from the Revolutions, the Civil Wars (and not just the American
“Till I Fell In Love”, never one of my favourite songs on Time Out Of Mind,
was a revelation, a blues standard surely, sounding 100 years old.
We were sent off with the traditional “Rainy Day Women” which was, well,
just perfect. A rousing, blazing finale. And then they took off the guitars
and stood taking the waves of applause. A jumping, leaping, hollering
After all that all we could do was retire to the bar, grin manically at each
other, and down the pints.
Review by Tony Reilly
I've seen Dylan live several times, the most memorable time being Slane
Castle '84. I've always regarded that gig as one of my favourites,
alongside Elvis Costello & The Stones. But I could never really decide on
my favourite. Until Now!
Last night I experienced something truly amazing. And I sincerely believe
that I was destined to be there. I returned from holiday a few weeks ago,
to find out that the Point Depot concert was already sold out. It was then
announced that Bob Dylan would play an additional gig at Vicar Street. The
true capacity I believe to 850 approx. Tickets went on sale one week ago
and sold out in a record '1 minute'. I found myself again without a
Much controversy in Ireland followed, regarding how many tickets actually
were sold to the public. As word got around about demand for this show,
prices for tickets began to soar. I had resigned myself to buying a ticket
outside the Point Depot as I was sure to get a ticket there because of
it's greater capacity.
Anyway, a few days before the concert, one of our national newspapers ran
a competition for 2 tickets to Vicar Street and I could not believe my
luck when I found that I was to receive one of the winning tickets (my
brother's child was the actual winner).
So last night my brother and I travelled to Vicar Street, knowing that
this was going to be something special.Substantial amounts of money was
offered to us. Tickets were being sold for £1000 (over US$1000) and we
heard stories of prices in excess of £5000 for 2 tickets. Not to be
tempted, we entered the venue immediately. There was a definite tension in
the place and because of this I do believe that most people in attendance
were true Dylan fans. At about 8.45pm Bob was introduced on stage and he
went straight into Duncan and Brady. I could not believe what I was
experiencing. He was in superb form and every number he played was
On reading the setlists on your site, I was expecting certain songs to
stand out, but I was totally surprised with my favourites. I keep changing
my mind, but I was really impressed with To Ramona, Desolation Row,
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat, Things Have Changed, Like A Rolling Stone &
Highway 61 Revisited. And his heartfelt version of Just Like A Woman will
stay in my memory for a long time.
Some people seem to be critical of the fact that he is mainly playing
older material, but he is putting so much effort into every song, I don't
see how anybody could be disapointed.
After the show, we left the venue in total amazement. We had listened to
Dylan give a brilliant performance, were so close to him that we could see
every facial expression and not many people in Ireland were so lucky.
I now know what my favourite concert has been and I really don't think
that it will be surpassed. I will always remember the date:
September 13th, 2000. Vicar Street.
Review by Vince W.
Not the most academic review, more of a story really - the bottom line is
a great show that exceeded my expectations but fell short of my hopes.
The full accoustic set 'promised' by the Irish Times didnt happen and even
after 2 months off the road no big suprises. In fact it didnt seem like
two years had passed since my last show at Wembley - sure, some track
changes and new faces but to my ears many of the track performances were
reminicant of 1998.
The story - well getting the ticket was a triumph of research, after
speaking to Ticketmaster and the venue I decided against flying out to
line up for tickets in Dublin and explored various Ticketmaster phone
numbers - while my wife tried the official number and got stuck on hold
for over 20 min I was using another number all by myself it seems as I
kept getting straight through but too early! I worked out how long the
automated system was taking and caught it just right getting to an
operator at 10.01 and the tickets sold out just as she secured mine - wow.
My wife is telling me on the mobile to my left ear that she had missed the
tickets at the same time I am giving credit card details down the land
line to Ticketmaster. Later I get a phone call from Dublin confirming the
ticket, checking my address and they tell me just 15 people got tickets
over the phone, the Irish press report just 2 tickets were sold over the
Getting to Dublin was a simple 200 mile drive and 90 mins resting on the
Ferry - or at least that was the plan. Instead it was a journey akin to
the start of the first Indianna Jones movie as we raced ahead of the
petrol crisis, dodging truckers go-slow protests and worrying over a
threatened blockade of the ferry port. The relief as I enjoyed a pint of
Smethwicks in O'Connell St on Tuesday night looking at a photo of Bob
arriving at Dublin airport printed in the evening paper was incredible.
Dublin is a great place, a real tonic, where else could you see 2 forklift
trucks loading a horse and cart? I walk to the venue early to suss it out
and miss it at first as it is completely hidden by a beer delivery wagon -
small venue indeed. At 10 am I spot a woman arriving, 10 hours later she
is still there waving a sign begging for a FREE ticket, I hope she got
one. When I return at 6 pm there are metal fence cordons, a police car
and 6 Garda on duty, at least 20 fans desperate for tickets, one offering
'name your price' - its raining. The word is we will be let in 10 at a
time, posters announce no photo or recording equipment and the club
security men are many and huge. I figure these guys will soon know what I
ate for lunch so chicken out and decide I will give an 'unplugged'
performance tonight whatever Bob decides. As I am greeted by really
friendly doorstaff I regret my decision but enjoy another 'Dublin moment'
as they ask a guy if he has a camera, sure he says, where is it they ask,
oh I left it at home he replies. This was an honest exchange with no
sarcasm or humour.
Inside the venue reminds me of Bournmouth but lots smaller. Full seating
upstairs for those ticket holders and some fold down seats, 3 or 4 rows at
the back ot the downstairs standing area. Lots of people smoking and
drinking, some with a pint in each hand. The crowd is a real mix, I see
no faces I know (but later the buzz is that Elvis Costello and Bono were
there). I guess this is the audience mix you get when tickets are sold
this way, (a record store owner from Galway says Ticketmaster sold just 8
tickets there) an audience comprising of those who were first (or knew the
right people) rather than just the biggest fans. I have no problem with
that but maybe would think different if I had missed out. I suspect for
some last night Vicar Street was the place to be seen.
For me the audience had too many talkers and beer drinkers - there is a
constant milling of people to and from the bars, which were outside the
performance area, all through the show. Despite that quibble the crowd
did love Bob and joined in all the famous bits. There were long standing
ovations and cheers. Bob and the band were fine, Bob smiled a lot during
Tangled Up In Blue and it was a little scary I can tell you (a touch of
Tom Jones I fear). Another different thing was Bob and the band now stand
and accept applause like the actors at the end of a play, it almost looks
like Bob is about to make a big announcment - almost but not really.
You can read the set list elsewhere, for me hearing Duncan & Brady for the
first time was marvelous (but ask me again after the next 8 shows), To
Ramona, heartfelt and beautiful, Desolation Row nice and brisk (the crowd
didnt recognise this until the title words were sung), Tommorrow is a Long
Time, a favourite of mine and I doubt I will hear it better, this beat
Wembley '98 for emotion I think, Tangled was popular but I trod water,
Ring Them Bells disappointed a little but not as much as seeing Bob swap
to electric guitar for Country Pie which I refuse to warm too. Cant Wait
was fine, Maggies Farm seemed empty then a long intro to a very good and
well recieved Just like a Woman. Drifters Escape caught us all offguard
but the crowd loved Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat and rightly so - it rocked.
Things Have Changed was good to hear (the UK single is out 9 Oct) Rolling
Stone got arms up and a mass chant on the chorus. There was lots of
hushing to be heard as the won over crowd concentrated on a beautiful Girl
From the North Country. H61 was another crowd pleaser and Blowing In The
Wind blew us away. Till I Fell In Love With You puzzled those around me
but we all enjoyed Everbody Must Get Stoned.
The bar was buzzing afterwards (I like a drink but just before and after
the shows not during) the steets too were alive with passerby asking if
Bob had been good. The univesal answer was an unresounding YES.
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